The most essential key to life is breathing, without it, we perish. Through just our breathing we can quickly slow our heart rate, release endorphins, increase our energy, lower our stress, and rid the body of harmful toxins. Amazing, eh?!
Well these same benefits can improve the health of your equine companion as well, especially when combined with the healing connection of touch. When explaining the benefits of bodywork to someone, I always like to start with the basics of breathing. The ability to control your inhalation and exhalation when working on any animal are very important. Your breathing rhythm can be very contagious to your horse; be it a nice, relaxed cadence, or a fast, nervous one. One of the remarkable attributes that horses possess, is that they have an astounding ability to read body language - especially the kind we don't know we are emitting. Not only will they read it, but the will react to it as well, be it for the positive or be it for the negative. I have been amazed several times to watch the change in behavior on a nervous or high strung horse when I start moving more methodically and slow down my own breathing. Within minutes, they become more attune to my movements and begin to match my breathing. Now, the average respiratory rate of an adult human is 12-16 breaths per minute, and the average respiratory rate for an adult horse is 10-20 breaths per minute, so you can easily see how a relaxed rhythm can start to coincide with each other, especially when coupled with long, engaging massage techniques.
So next time you find yourself frazzled before tacking up - take a few minutes to slow your breathing, lay your hands on your horse and concentrate on your intake of air for a few minutes, and watch how it benefits your ride!